How To Picnic

The Tab’s guide to the perfect picnic: avoid breaking the law, learn the perfect snack for keeping your sense of smell and see how Titus Andronicus can inspire a non-cannibalistic feast.

Brideshead Revisited France Guide law medicine picnic Titus Andronicus

Deluded by the heatwave that has washed up on British shores, thousands have taken to green expanses to picnic. So here are our suggestions for the perfect picnic…

They are themed by subject just so that you remember, Cambridge student, that while you’re sipping on a Magners and are very much not in the library, you will fail if you spend the next two months in this form.

Illustration by Esther Harding

The English Student

Take inspiration from the great literature (you say) you’ve read.

Brideshead Revisited, Evelyn Waugh

Sebastian Flyte would surely endorse a champagne picnic, hamper non-optional. If you’re an English or History fresher, and therefore saved from Tripos this year, investing in this John Lewis 4-person hamper will provide your picnic with Brideshead class. £150 is expensive though, so split it between many if you‘re sufficiently taken in by The Tab to listen to our suggestions for profligacy.

Champagne is obviously a fiscal stretch, so substitute champagne for Cava (£4.56 for a Sainsbury’s own brand 75cl bottle). Bring cucumber sandwiches, surprisingly less boring and more tasty than they sound; strawberries and cream; and a conflicted family backstory and your Brideshead-themed picnic is complete.

Titus Andronicus, William Shakespeare

The Tab does not suggest that you bake the children of an adulterous, malevolent and unwitting female ruler in a pie, wait until she has feasted sumptuously on the ground organs of her offspring and then reveal your recipe. The Tab also hopes that this is not the calibre of the company you choose to keep.

The Titus Andronicus theme is used (loosely) here as a synonym for a pie-themed picnic. If prepared, why not bake your own and make sure you and your companions get one of your five-a-day (coated with copious sugar).

Alternatively, Sainsbury’s does a large Melton Mowbray pork pie for £1.92 – you’ll need several – and the bakery section does a range of sweet pies for ‘dessert’. Wash the pork pie down with some cider (apple sauce is the condiment partner of pork: cider is surely the beverage partner of pork pie).

The Lawyer: how to keep your picnic legal

1. “There can be no general, private law right for any member of the public to picnic on a given piece of land.” However, if you are in an area in which you have right of way, e.g. a public footpath, “stopping for refreshments is likely to be incidental to that right.” However, “moving away from that right of way may constitute a trespass.” In conclusion, stick to the paths, don’t go for a ramble in the surrounding fields.

2. Do not start a commune: “Spreading your blanket on a village green registered under the Commons Act (2006) is the safest way to go about your picnic, but making it permanent i.e. building on a village green is a criminal act.” If your picnic has become a shanty town and banal gossip about potential tan lines has evolved into the drawing up of a community constitution, you have transgressed this criminal line.

3. Providing alcohol to those under 18 is illegal. If a kid asks if he can have a swatch of your tinny, tell him to go age a few years. Surrounding yummy mummies will be unimpressed if you are seen to be supplying the local youth with liquor, and may be so bored as to consider alerting an authority. Why you would even hypothetically be plying the local youth with alcohol is unclear.

The Medic: Picnic on Nutritious Snacks

Pump yourself full of requisite vitamins to ensure that your brain is whirring at full capacity this exam term.


Zinc has all sorts of magic bean potential. Apparently, it is essential to maintaining a sense of smell, as well as a healthy immune system, and it also constructs proteins and enzymes and creates DNA. All of this sounds particularly vital to The Tab.

Those deficient in zinc can suffer hair loss, diahorrea, impotence and a weakened immune system. In short, avoid ending exam term bald, flatulent, sexually frustrated and riddled with germs by consuming a zinc-saturated picnic of foods including:

– Handfuls of sesame seeds, peanuts and pumpkin seeds

– Tahini (found in houmous)

– Dark chocolate


Calcium regulates the heartbeat, strengthens bones (preventing osteoporosis and rickets) and ensures that your blood clots normally. If your heart, blood and bones all start playing up, then you’re probably dying. Preclude death by consuming a calcium-rich picnic including some of the following:

– Dairy products like cheese, milk and yoghurt. Mini milks could suffice (£1.92 for 12 from Sainsbury’s).

– Bread – essential ingredient of the all-important picnic sandwich

Vitamin C

Vitamin C protects cells and forms connective tissues in the body that protect other organs. A lack of vitamin C can lead to the disease scurvy. Despite being de rigeur among 16th century pirates, scurvy is, in fact, deeply unpleasant. Avoid it by consuming a picnic including some of the following:

– Peppers (yummy dipped in houmous)

– Oranges (and orange juice)

– Broccoli (not your traditional picnic fare, but you‘ll be the one laughing when your friends‘ scurvy-ridden limbs are disintegrating)

MML Student: How They Picnic On The Continent

Try a French menu:

– Une Baguette. Check out the bakery section of Sainsbury’s for freshly-baked baguettes.

– Camembert (Sainsbury’s Basics: £1.38/250g unit) and/or (preferably ‘and’) Brie (£0.94/200g unit).

– Red Wine. Sainsbury’s Basics offers a a 75cl bottle at £2.85. Apparently it’s ’light and fruity’. Alternatively, don’t go for wine that will paralyse your corneas and select something a little more expensive when you hit Sainsbury’s booze aisle.

– If you’re picnicking on Jesus Green, pop into Patisserie Valerie for a citron tart.

– To invest your picnic with a further l’esprit de France, suggest your friends join you in a heated round of ‘into what expression will Sarkozy contort his wizened little mug next?’ When someone pulls out ‘gnomish gurn’, they are the winner.